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Co-Op Ed: The PS4

The PlayStation 4 is upon us. The Kambyero writers each give their own take on the tech, the features, the games lineup, and how much those factors can possibly affect the console and gaming’s future.

[Co-Op Ed is a regular roundtable on relevant gaming news.]

Click for Lukas's secret origins!

Having not really experienced the present generation of HD console gaming (owning only a PC and a Wii), I came into the livestream of the PlayStation Meeting 2013 with mild excitement. The past three “next-gen” hardware announcements– Wii U, Vita, and 3DS– didn’t really disappoint, current state of the systems aside, and I felt the same anticipation building.

The PS3 was a painful and expensive lesson for Sony, alienating developers and gamers alike with its alien Cell processor and steep initial price tag, and the PS4’s focus on a more familiar PC architecture—and that whopping eight gigs of DDR5 RAM—will allow a more uniform experience for developers, and more games released.

The worst-case scenario talk prior to the press conference was that the PS4, much like the next Xbox, would require a constant internet connection (either as a form of DRM or, horribly, because the system and its games would be cloud-based) and that it would block used games. Thankfully, neither are true, with both emphatically confirmed by Sony. In fact, the PS4 looks to be addressing many of the online flaws so bemoaned in its predecessor—  games can be downloaded in the background, and after the beginning portions are on the system, the games can even be played while the rest of it is downloading, a groundbreaking idea that puts Steam and its ridiculous patch system to shame.

I’m very excited about the system’s sharing functionality. The last several minutes of any gameplay session are automatically saved to video, and screenshots can (presumably) be taken at any time. Screenshots and video are staples to any PC gamer, and to have a dedicated button for it, letting you capture that perfect moment, will be a great convenience. Not needing any special hardware to capture console footage is an incredible advantage. Hopefully some games won’t restrict these capabilities, as some games do with the Vita’s screenshot functionality.

Still, I’m not clamoring to get one at launch just yet. I missed plenty of great HD console exclusives, and the PS4 won’t be backwards compatible in the traditional sense. Sure, streaming Sony subsidiary Gaikai is looking into the tech, but the licensing issues will be a nightmare, as evidenced by the current state of PSone classics on the Vita. The extant online infrastructure in this country isn’t anywhere near ready for persistent HD streaming, either, and the concept of game ownership comes into question as well.

After years of using the perfect-except-for-its-directional-pad Xbox 360 controller, I’m digging the design of the DualShock 4. It seems that Sony have taken the superb Vita d-pad and married it with improved ergonomics, deeper triggers, and more comfortable analogue sticks. The current DualShock 3 won’t work on the PS4, but I’m crossing my fingers that the DualShock 4 will support the PS3, if only as a traditional controller, eschewing that tiny touchpad completely. I hope that developers won’t feel the need to shoehorn in useless touch controls like they did with the Vita, and remember that despite its “gimmickry”, it’s still a real controller too.

 

Click for Mix's secret origins!

I’ve been with Playstation all my life. I’ve had every single console sans its mobile devices.I have seen it learn, I have seen it grow. Sadly, I have never seen it love.

The PS4 launch was heartbreaking for me to watch. Some aspects of the new console are worth anticipating– PC-like graphic capabilities? That would be like a dream. Headphone jack in the controller? Now I can keep playing at wee hours without waking the house. Other innovations, if we can call it that, just leave me scratching my head. The share function is interesting, but why? Because social networks are a huge trend? Because young people take photos of their food and post it on Facebook, so it stands to reason that they’d like to take photos of their kills and upload it too?

If the PS4 needs a constant internet connection to work, that would be the kiss of death to my Playstation gaming experience. No backwards compatibility, but you can download your old games if you pay for it again? You’ve got to be shitting me! Seems to me, these aren’t really innovations that improve or change gaming experience. They’re just new trinkets slapped on an old piece of gadget and hyped to the max, like any Apple product. Sony is penalizing its own consumer base in the name of profit.

Is there a need for the PS4 in the first place? The PS3 remains a strong console. It’s potential hasn’t been maximized yet. And people don’t really buy consoles because of the console, but because of the games. I’ll just go ahead and Kanye West this shit: Sony doesn’t care about gaming people.

 

Click for Job's secret origins!By God, Jim, this lineup’s amazing. I’ve always believed that a console’s announcement lineup not only set the scene for its future library but also works as a stratified sample of the most popular contemporary game genres. It’s like a sampler platter and also a… survey? While this metaphor gets away from me, let’s take a look at them games:

Conquer your fears with Deep Down and its unapologetic use of sans serif fonts! Capcom dips its toes into the next generation with this suspiciously Dark Souls-ey, Monster Hunter-esque number. With their new and exciting Body-Acting (or Panta Rhei) engine, watch as the main dude scares himself shitless at all the GODDAMNED DRAGON FIRE EVERYWHERE. And also Tom Hiddleston is there, playing a crusty elf? Shut up, I don’t care! Spelunking, cooperative play, and vanquishing beagle-dragons await!

Product Placement: The Heist, or Drive Club as it was named in the presscon is shaping up to be the mother of all racing games. Looks like it’s gearing up for league-based play. Well, it’s certainly ahead of the curve in that sense. Also, it boasts of having all the graphics. As long as it doesn’t drift too far from its promises, it will set the car high for all future racing games.

Infamous: Second Son’s trailer has collateral damage, brightly colored powers, and uniformed men getting thrown about like ragdolls, making it the most original Infamous trailer ever.

Destiny imagines a world full of Halos. Did you ever want to be Halo but didn’t like his male-ideal physique and noticeable lack of cool cloaks? Well, in Destiny, you can be different kinds of cloaked Halos. You can be a chubby Halo. A girl Halo. Don’t worry, fans of the original–there’s regular Halo for you, too. But are cloaks optional? Stay tuned.

PS4 Destiny

Killzone: Shadow Fall could not have had more blue and orange. Seriously, can a color motif be any more hamhanded in portraying moral contrast? Well, it did showcase a seamless mix of gameplay and cutscene. Video game visual direction is blazing new trails, man. But it may prove difficult to distinguish when to pop some Helghast heads and kick back and relax to watch some war bureaucracy in action. As long as it’s as clearly defined as the trailer’s overblown use of a tired color contrast profile, I guess gamers will cope.

If not for the almost tangential inclusion of gameplay, you’d think Knack’s a cute Dreamworks and/or Pixar movie. The visuals are smooth and clean; the voice acting seems professionally done; and It feels like a fun throwback to the old Playstation 3D platformers. As long as it doesn’t take itself too seriously and isn’t totally emotionally manipulative, it may be the PS4’s flagship Crash Bandicoot or Ratchet and Clank. Remember those games? Those were good games

What could The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt trailer be about? I’m not sure! Because, like with Sony and the PS4 console, CD Projekt shows us nothing of the new Witcher other than these uncomfortable game logo closeups However, the screenshots do show us horses and magic. Those are good enough for me.

You could say that trailer for The Witness Jonathan Blew me away. You could say that. Not really feeling the puzzle aspect of drawing lines on doors too much, but I’m hopeful. Are the visuals are stunning? Yes. Is the music a mellifluous breeze flowing through glen? Yes. Will Jonathan Blow insult critics who can’t grasp the true nature of his genius? Most likely.

PS4 The Witness

Watch Dogs will allow you, the player, to mess with people in ways you can’t possibly imagine. This new trailer jacks up expectations by making it seemingly completely open-world. It also showed this street-level conflict that, again, seemingly arose organically from a simple walkabout. I’m a sucker for little AI gimmicks like these. The possibilities! Preventing assaults and suicide bombings; the dilemma of thoughtcrime. No, John, you are the minority reports.

There’s also Diablo III and an unnamed Final Fantasy game . Man, Diablo III and another Final Fantasy! What could these refreshingly new games be about? That new FF game looks fairly fresh, though, mixing a gothic fantasy aesthetic in a blatantly Middle Eastern setting. Would I play a new FF set in the modern world? Yeeeees, god yes. I want to swoop down on my Bahamut to terrorize bazaar-dwellers and drink potions to pop bullets out of my skin. Squeenix, I wish I knew how to quit you.

Sony’s game lineup is suggesting that it’s time for a change. Did you see a Call of Duty in there? There’s Killzone, but that game’s awesome and flashily-colored. Six out of the 11 announced games were new IP. One of them (The Witness) is from an indie dev. One of them’s from Poland (The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt). And a lot of them include original gameplay or story elements. This is Sony saying that, hey, you may be a college fratboy, a bescarfed literati, or a sallow neckbeard, but we got yo’ backs. Sony might have forgotten their past by dropping back-compatibility, but from the vantage point of their coming catalog, the future doesn’t look so bad.

 

Click for Joseph's secret origins!Lots of good points raised by everyone, but let me touch upon a couple of things before we wrap this up.

Lukas, it’s not really just the Philippines that will have problems trying to play old generation titles via cloud, especially for PS3 titles. Considering how people from the States already experience choppy streams just watching TV shows and events such as this one by Sony, you really have to wonder how exactly the Japanese tech giant will pull off actual gaming through the Gaikai service.

It’s not just delivering the visuals through an Internet connection, it also has to deal with the player’s many inputs especially for fighting games or hack and slashers. I imagine the lag would be awful if Internet speeds don’t get better to handle all that.

I don’t even know what you’ll be able to use that tiny touchpad for either!

Mixka, I think Sony going for the SOCIAL ANGLE is totally expected now that, like it or not, social media has pretty much become totally integrated in the lives of the youth. Connectivity is one of the biggest tech trends in this day and age, not so much going for even higher graphic fidelity. Of course, it’s not like the PS4 isn’t going to be a beast when it comes to rendering awesome visuals. Hell, it can already play videos and display images (but not games) in whopping 4k resolution.

It’s not just sharing photos, too. It’s live streaming games as you play them, and there’s a pretty big audience in the gaming market that loves watching other people play! Even Lukas is looking forward to that!

Right now, Sony has actually confirmed to Dale North of Destructoid that the company can make it so that PSN purchases be transferred to the PS4, and be played through the cloud. Key word there is can. Sony hasn’t given a final answer yet, but the fact that they’re still considering it shows that awful greedy side to businesses.

But there’s also that awesome new hardware that isn’t really just for making games look prettier. It also gives developers more freedom to explore more creative avenues, especially now that they also plan to reach out more to indie developers.

PS4 Killzone Shadowfall

It’s not totally Sony’s fault if your average major publisher and developer partner companies just plan to make another flashy but ultimately generic “cinematic” shooter! Sony has already done away with the Cell processor that made it a bitch for devs to figure out in favor of more accessible architecture, so it’s also up to the third parties to capitalize on those new elements.

Which brings me to Job; you’re right that the announced lineup sounds promising in terms of catering to all sorts of audiences. Just have to remind you though that some of the gameplay footage shown during the unveiling was actually run on a PC with similar specs to the PS4, specifically Watch Dogs which was already in development so there was no time to create something with the newly revealed console.

I’m also not sure if you’re being totally sarcastic about Diablo III and the new Final Fantasy, but I’ll just assume you aren’t! D3 is just a port of the PC game that came out last May, which explains the lukewarm at best reaction about the announcement during the event. Also, that FF video, as impressive as it was, was already shown at last year’s E3, and it’s just a tech demo, not an actual trailer. The real PS4 Final Fantasy will be shown in this year’s upcoming E3.

Guess you’ll just have to do with ANOTHER FF XIII SPIN-OFF SEQUEL THINGY.

But hey, we’ve got all these other developers who probably won’t disappoint!

DAT THIRD PARTY SUPPORT

While the reactions to the announcement of the brand new console have been mixed, there’s no denying it has made a lot of waves especially with its powerful and more dev-friendly architecture and its increased focus on connecting gaming enthusiasts.

However, there is still the very real issue of technological limitations facing the average gaming consumer, particularly us Filipino fans, that could hinder a big part of Sony’s audience from actually enjoying what the company put a lot of effort into hyping.

At the very least, there is still hope for a more diversified gaming experience. That’s certainly something to hope for, as discussion on the artistic merits of video games will definitely be pushed forward in the process.

6 comments on “Co-Op Ed: The PS4

  1. Carl Anthony Martinez
    25 February 2013

    I don’t see any strategy from Sony (or any of the other big 3 console producers) on how to deal with the fact that, for most people, the only way they game now is either on their mobile devices or via Facebook.

    • Job Duanan
      25 February 2013

      Good point. The Big 3 don’t see the iOS, Android, and the casual gaming markets as competition. Nintendo even stated outright that Apple isn’t in direct competition with them! Sony’s been… trying. Remember the PSP phone? That was a hilarious disaster if you remember. They stopped bothering after that. Microsoft’s Windows phone is pretty good, to be honest. Its apps market shows promise, but it is a distant third from the overachiever Apple and the little OS that could, Android.

      In terms of the consoles actually competing with Apple (and let’s not forget Steam and its stranglehold on the PC), I think Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony are carving their own field for them to play on. Too bad they can’t seem to see that the game has changed.

      • Carl Anthony Martinez
        25 February 2013

        It’s especially odd coming from Nintendo, since they managed to win the current gen of console wars by focusing on casual gamers and portable consoles.

      • Lukas Velunta
        2 March 2013

        After a pretty rough first year, the 3DS looks to be on track to reach DS-like levels of popularity– now is the perfect time to get one, with games like Monster Hunter, Ace Attorney, and Luigi’s Mansion on the horizon. Fire Emblem: Awakening is incredibly well-received, and third-party support is superb.

        The Wii U… well, it needs the games (they lost a great exclusive with Rayman Legends), but man if Lego City Undercover isn’t looking stunning. Looks to be a spiritual successor to Lego Island.

  2. Phil Corpuz
    25 February 2013

    Personally very interested in the change to x86 architecture and what it means for the ease of porting titles over, as well as potential for cross-platform play for PC & PS4 (pipe dream, I’m sure). The integrated sharing, screen and vidcap functionality also took me off guard when I first heard about it, but I’d be interested in the vidcaps for godmode runs, tutorials, and other things where a video clip could be really awesome or downright helpful, especially when it comes to community contributions and creations.

  3. Lukas Velunta
    2 March 2013

    Phil, I do believe Portal 2 (on PS3 and PC) had cross-platform coop. Though how the mouse-and-keyboard PC crowd had the patience to wait for the DualShock-wielding PS3 users is something else entirely.

    I’m excited about the architecture (which the next Xbox will also use) because that should mean that third-party games should almost certainly have PC versions. I’m looking at you, Red Dead Redemption.

    Sharing functionality has tons of potential, especially when it’s integrated into the hardware like it is. When playing PC games on my 360 controller, I often have one of the buttons mapped to the Fraps capture hotkey, which is invaluable during sticky situations. Works to get that great screenshot nearly every time. With the PS4’s video capture tech on top of that, the community should be adequately robust.

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This entry was posted on 24 February 2013 by in Discussion and tagged , , , , .
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